Contradictory findings from studies on pretreatment malalignment as a risk factor for relapse of maxillary incisor alignment may be due to inappropriate sample selection and measurement technique. In an attempt to clarify the issue, 745 sets of study models made before (T1) and after (T2) orthodontic treatment and at long-term out of retention (T3) were screened. On the basis of the configuration of the maxillary anterior teeth on the T3 study models, three groups were established: one with significant spacing (group 1, n = 30); one with significant irregularity (group 2, n = 49); and one with perfect alignment (group 3, n = 28). The occlusal surfaces of the 321 maxillary study models at T1, T2, and T3 were photocopied and the tooth anatomic contact points digitized. An algorithm was used to fit the dental arch to the digitized points. Amount of incisor rotation and anatomic contact point displacement of the maxillary anterior teeth relative to the dental arch were computer generated. Interdental spaces in the maxillary anterior segment, as well as overjet and overbite, were measured manually. Nonstructural data were collected from the charts. Logistic regression analyses revealed that irregularity was associated with greater anatomic contact displacement and with greater incisor rotation both at T1 and T2 (P < 0.01). Similar analyses also revealed that spacing was associated with greater interdental spaces at T1 and T2 (P < 0.01). Correlation analyses revealed that the pattern of pretreatment rotational displacement has a strong tendency to repeat itself after retention (P < 0.001), as opposed to the pattern of contact point displacement and interdental spacing.